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Tree, Catherine Street, Limarady

Mr. William Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps she intends to take to replace the tree removed by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland in Catherine Street, Limarady on 13 January. [23496]

Mr. Paul Murphy: As part of the ongoing Environment Scheme a semi-mature tree will be planted as close as possible to the site of the original tree. This tree will be replaced in about two years' time by a lime tree with grafting from the original tree.

Mr. William Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for what reasons her Department removed the mature tree on Catherine Street, Limarady on 13 January which was a gift from the Right hon. Wm. F. Massey P. C., former Prime Minister of New Zealand. [23495]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The position of the tree has long been a problem regarding access to the fire station and businesses located off an adjoining entry. The basalt surround to the tree was damaged by vehicles on numerous occasions and each time it had to be rebuilt.

Road Traffic Law

Mr. Robert McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will make a statement on the differences between Northern Ireland Road Traffic law and that in Great Britain; and what steps are being taken to ensure uniformity. [23695]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Northern Ireland's road traffic law is broadly similar to that in Great Britain. Notable differences include:






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A draft Road Traffic (New Drivers) (NI) Order was laid before Parliament on 11 December 1997. That Order proposes to introduce new road safety measures relating to new inexperienced drivers similar to those in place in Great Britain.

GB provisions on road traffic matters are not usually extended directly to Northern Ireland because of the difference in the responsibilities of local government in the two areas and certain differences in local conditions, such as the nature and extent of traffic problems encountered.

Civil Service

Mr. Robert McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to her answer of 1 December 1997, Official Report, columns 8-9, if she will make a statement on the rates of growth in Catholic and Protestant representation in the Northern Ireland Civil Service; and what steps she is taking in regard to future trends in representation. [23692]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) aims to create a position where Protestants and Roman Catholics are fairly represented at all levels in the organisation. There is a strong evidence of compositional change in the NICS-workforce since monitoring was introduced in 1985. At a macro level Protestants now represent 59.2 per cent. of the Non-Industrial Service and Roman Catholics 40.8 per cent. compared with 64.3 per cent. and 35.7 per cent. in 1985. Protestants and Roman Catholics are now fairly represented among a significant proportion of the Services' occupational groups and at most grade levels up to around Staff Officer and equivalent levels, which account for some 87 per cent. of the total workforce. Roman Catholic under-representation remains evident among the senior levels of the various occupational groups and is most apparent at Grade 5 level and above (i.e. the Senior Civil Service).

The Service has taken a number of steps within the law designed to achieve a more balanced workforce at the more senior levels, whilst adhering strictly to the merit principle in both its recruitment and internal promotion practices. These include the use of positive action advertising in appropriate circumstances and the removal of various internal barriers to promotion to encourage a better flow of staff from lower to higher grades within and between Departments.

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Further detailed information on significant equal opportunity developments, trends in composition, affirmative action measures and goals and timetables can be found in the Department of Finance and Personnel's "Sixth Report of the Equal Opportunities Unit" which was published on 31 October 1997, copies of which are available in the Library.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Robert McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many staff are employed in each Northern Ireland Civil Service Department on (a) writing legislation and (b) writing procedural guidance consequent upon legislation; and what are the total and average staff costs for each department. [24169]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Information in the form requested is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Nuclear Reactors

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will list the occasions since 1980 when nuclear reactors have been shut down for safety reasons, indicating in each case the date of shut down, the reason for the shut down and the date on which power generation recommenced. [24753]

Mr. Ingram: Nuclear reactors have never been used for power generation purposes in Northern Ireland.

Fluoridation

Rev. Ian Paisley: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) which Government buildings in Northern Ireland have had their water supplies artificially fluoridated; [25115]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Responsibility for the subject in question has been delegated to the Water Service under its chief executive, Mr. Plester. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from G. K. Sutton to Rev. Ian Paisley, dated 27 January 1998:

The Secretary of State has asked the Chief Executive, Mr Plester, to reply to your recent parliamentary questions asking if any Government buildings in Northern Ireland such as prisons, military camps, schools, etc, have been artificially fluoridated and in what quantities the fluoride used to artificially fluoridate Tandragee contains arsenic, lead, aluminium and radioactive particles. Mr Pester is out of the office on business and has asked me to respond.




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